Mental health issues topic of presentations
By Linda Braden Albert | [email protected] | Posted 14 hours ago
A series of presentations on mental health issues will begin Thursday at the Blount County Public Library. The first presentation is by Sita Diehl, past executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Tennessee and currently national director of state advocacy for NAMI National.
Larry Drain, recently named president of NAMI Maryville, said, “When they asked me to take the job, I really wanted to figure out a way not only to help NAMI but to help the community. Every day, nowadays, when you read the paper or watch TV or whatever, in one way or another, mental health issues are there. There’s a lot of bad information, misinformation, so the idea I had was that if we could bring a series of people to Maryville to talk about mental health issues, that would be a real, real positive thing for this community.”
Diehl’s current position entails her traveling from state to state, organizing efforts to make outcomes for mental health possible in each state, Drain said. “I’ve known her for years, and she was the very first person I asked. Her topic will be about finding support, whether you’re a family member, whether you’re somebody with a mental illness. She will talk a lot about NAMI, some about the mental health system in Tennessee. There will be a question and answer period after she gets through talking. Anybody who comes will be enriched by her.”
On April 24, Doug Varney, commissioner of mental health and substance abuse services for the state of Tennessee, will speak on mental health and drug addiction. Drain said, “I think he will talk some about prescription drugs and meth, what the state is trying to do to deal with some of these things. Especially in Blount County, it is such a live issue. ... He knows the topic inside out.”
Additional speakers in upcoming months include Ben Harrington, executive director, East Tennessee Mental Health Association; Scott Ridgeway, director, Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network; Allen Doderlain, national president, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; Pam Binkley, recovery coordinator, Optum Health, who will talk about emotional first aid; Lisa Ragan, director, Office of Consumer Affairs, Tennessee Department of Mental Health, who will speak on peer support, recovery, etc.; and Elizabeth Power, a nationally known expert on post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental health professionals from Blount Memorial Hospital have also been invited to speak.
Drain said, “I think this will be a quality addition to the Maryville community and I hope lots of folks will come. ... For a lot of folks here, the whole area of mental health, mental health treatment, the resources involved and things like that are so confusing. My hope is that all these speakers can shed some light, bring some facts and really help people in the Blount County area.”
Larry Drain, hopeworkscommunity